Karen Shepherd

CPL 150

Northeast · Glenville · Memoir

I attended Literary Cleveland's 2019 Inkubator Writer's Conference at the Main Branch of the Cleveland Public Library. Being in the library evoked pleasant memories of spending many hours there as a teenager.

I would ride the #3 bus downtown from E. 123rd street along Superior Avenue to the heart of downtown Cleveland, Public Square. I would then walk the short distance to the library.

Once inside, I would go the card catalogue (remember those?) to find the call numbers of the books that interested me. On one particular day, I went to the 2nd floor where books on weird or off-beat subject were held. I was in search of books about yoga, a burgeoning interest of mine. I dutifully wrote the call numbers and took them to the librarian. She looked at them then looked up at me with curiosity. She whispered to me "Are these books about sex?"

"No," I replied, they are about Yoga."

The look on her face let me know that she thought this was even worse.

She got up from the desk and went to the stacks. I followed behind her as she perused the titles. Unfortunately we did not find any of them. I imagined, and could almost hear her thinking

"What a strange little girl."

I thanked her, left the library, and ran across the street to another favorite haunt, Schroeder's book store. Schroeder's bookstore ceased to exist when the land it was on was taken for the construction of the BP building. I found books there and almost exhausted my limited budget buying them, being careful to save enough for the bus ride back home.

Incidents such as this began to mold me into the person I am today. Yoga is no longer considered weird or beyond the pale. It feels good to be able to talk about it and practice it openly. I occasionally run into "Devil's workshop" comments about it, but not so much as in the past when I first became interested in it.

Karen Shepherd

Reverend Karen Shepherd's family moved to Cleveland from West Virginia in the early '60s and settled in the Glenville area. She loved the library as a child. Her fondness for libraries continues to this day. Reverend Shepherd attended school grades 1-12 in the Cleveland Public Schools, Ursuline College (BA), and John Carroll University (M.Ed). She began her 35-year teaching career as a Language Arts teacher in the Cleveland Public Schools (now Cleveland Municipal School District). She taught there for four years, subsequently moving to the Warrensville Heights City School District for the next 31 years. Karen started her ministry path during the last ten years of her career, by first becoming a Licensed Unity Teacher (2007) and an Ordained Unity minister in 2014.


Neighborhood Voices is a city-wide creative writing project designed by Literary Cleveland and the Cleveland Public Library to engage writers across Cleveland, allowing residents to connect with neighbors, share stories of their community, and draft new writing about what makes their neighborhood unique.


Cleveland Public Library
325 Superior Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44114

Project Created By Literary Cleveland

Literary Cleveland is a nonprofit organization and creative writing center that empowers people to explore other voices and discover their own. Through an expanding roster of multi-level classes, workshops and events, Literary Cleveland assists writers and readers at all stages of development, promotes new and existing literature of the highest quality, and advances Northeast Ohio as a vital center of diverse voices and visions.

Project Presented with Support By the Cleveland Public Library

Founded in 1869, Cleveland Public Library serves the residents of Cleveland through its network of 27 neighborhood branches, the Main Library downtown, Public Administration Library at City Hall, homebound delivery services, and mobile services to daycare and senior centers. From a collection of 10.5 million items, the Library lends over 5 million items a year to its 330,000 registered borrowers and to 43 other CLEVNET-member libraries in 12 counties across Northeast Ohio. Cleveland Public Library is home to the Ohio Center for the Book and the Ohio Library for the Blind and Physically Disabled, serving all 88 counties in the state of Ohio. For more information, visit cpl.org.